Negotiated settlement deadline is Friday

ATLANTA -- Atlanta Thrashers forward Dany Heatley is closing in on a plea deal with prosecutors in his vehicular homicide case, but there are questions over the length of the sentence and how a conviction would affect his immigration status, his lawyer said Monday.

"I do think in the next 48 hours we're having one more discussion to see if we can make any headway," lawyer Don Samuel said, referring to a planned meeting with prosecutors. "If we've got to go forward, we'll go forward. But I think we're trying to work it out if we can."

Prosecution spokesman Erik Friedly would not say if the two sides are close to a deal.

If Heatley intends to enter a negotiated settlement on charges involving the Sept. 29, 2003, death of teammate Dan Snyder, Friday is the deadline, Friedly said. Trial is tentatively scheduled to begin the week of Feb. 7.

Plea discussions have been ongoing for several months.

Heatley was indicted in July on vehicular homicide and five other charges in the crash in Atlanta's Buckhead neighborhood that killed Snyder, 25.

Police estimated that Heatley was driving his Ferrari convertible between 60 and 90 mph on a curved road in a residential area when it ran into a brick pillar and iron fence. Snyder died after several days in a coma, and Heatley broke his jaw and tore two ligaments in his knee.

The Canadian citizen has been playing in Switzerland in recent months during the NHL lockout.

Samuel said defense lawyers are consulting with immigration experts to determine how a guilty plea would affect Heatley's ability to work in the United States. He added that defense lawyers and prosecutors have each made an offer on a negotiated sentence, though he would not provide specifics.

"They're close enough that maybe we can [reach a deal], but I don't know," Samuel said. "Our request of what we can live with and [the prosecutor's] demand for what he wants are not so far apart to suggest there's no chance."

Heatley was the MVP of the 2003 NHL All-Star Game.